Tibet Rail line not affected by Qinghai quake: China

Last Updated: Saturday, April 17, 2010 - 17:37

Beijing: China Saturday said the Qinghai-
Tibet railway link connecting the mainland with Tibet was not
affected by Wednesday`s devastating earthquake and it is being
used to rush relief supplies to the quake-hit areas.

"The (1,600 km long) railway line was not damaged in
the quake," Chinese Vice Minister of Railways Wang Zhiguo told
a press conference here in reply to a specific question.

A section of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway closest to the
quake epicenter in Yushu, Qinghai Province was 360 kilometers
away, he said.

The relief supplies transported to the quake-hit areas
by rail mainly came by the Lanzhou-Qinghai Railway, which
connects Lanzhou, capital of Gansu Province with Xining,
capital of Qinghai.

45 cargo trains loaded with 26,000 tents, 60,000
cotton-padded overcoats, 145,000 quilts and other supplies had
arrived in Yushu Saturday, he said.

Four passenger trains have also been deployed to
transport the wounded from the quake hit areas.

Qinghai-Tibet railway has been built through some of
the most difficult terrain on earth, and it rises at one point
to 5,072m (16,600ft) above sea level.

Because of the region`s extreme temperatures and
unstable permafrost, long sections of track have been elevated
to improve stability.

The railway which runs deep into Tibet and close to
Arunachal Pradesh has raised concerns in India that it could
also be used for quick deployment of forces.

China also announced that construction has begun on a
second railway linking China`s mainland with northwestern
Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region which last year erupted with
violence between Muslim Uygurs and Chinese Hans settlers.

The new line, stretching 1,776 kilometers from
Lanzhou, to Xinjiang`s capital, Urumqi, will run parallel to
the existing Lanxin Railway linking Xinjiang with the
northwestern provinces of Gansu and Qinghai.

The new line will be used exclusively for passenger
services while the old Lanxin Railway will be reserved for
freight trains, said a spokesman with the Xinjiang branch of
Lanxin Railway Company.

The USD 21 billion railway line is expected to become
operational in 2013.

"By then, trains will be traveling at 250 kilometers,
cutting the journey from Lanzhou to Urumqi to 10 hours from
the current 20," said Jin Di, an official in charge of railway
construction in Xinjiang`s Hami Prefecture.

PTI

First Published: Saturday, April 17, 2010 - 17:37
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